Haven’t you wondered sometimes, in one of those boring days with nothing to do: ¿Are mermaids scientifically possible? If you don’t trust The History Channel or Discovery Channel’s explanation about the case (I don’t blame you) let’s see if they could exist!
I want you to be mentally prepared: start forgetting about this kind of mermaids.
Well, first of all, the topic doesn’t seem so crazy, right? After all, couldn’t mermaids just be humans evolved to live underwater?
This is the kind of questions we should make ourselves each time we stumble across these type of information. We’ve got to be open minded about this.
Let’s start talking about evolution.
As you all probably know, evolution is change in heritable traits of biological populations over successive generations. Animals born with certain little mutations have an advantage over the other animals, and therefore, higher possibilities of surviving and having descendants.
Then, the first thing we’ve got to ask ourselves is: If mermaids were a species that separated itself from anthropoids long time ago to live in an acuatic environment, would they be well prepared to survive underwater?
If we take a look at a mermaid tail we see that, because of the movement limitation that human waists carry (which mermaids seem to possess) the movement of their fins could only be vertical, as happens with other underwater mammals such as dolphins or whales.
But the thing is, the lower part of underwater mammals’ skeleton is nothing like the human one. Observing a dolphin skeleton we can see that its tail is in fact a prolongation of its spinal cord.
As mermaids usually appear deppicted on a rock, with their tails bended, it seems that their skeletons do have some kind of internal articulation. This makes us think that their evolution would have consisted in the fusion of both human legs into one.
This means that after all, one mermaid would be like, at least from the mechanic point of view, one regular human with diving fins. And this would put them in real danger, making them far slower than their possible predators, such as sharks or killer whales.
Letting natation aside, let’s analize another factor: their ability to adapt to underwater life.
As you know when two objects are in contact and at a different temperature, the heat contained by the warmer one is transmitted into the colder one until they both reach the same temperature.
We humans are not an exception. Even right know, sitting comfortably in our sofa, our heat is being constantly transmitted into the air surrounding us, coulder than us. If it weren’t for our bodies’ ability to compensate this loss by generating more heat, our bodies’ heat would get lost in the air until we were at room temperature, meaning our dead.
But, in the sea, mermaids would have it harder than we do, as water absorves heat much more quickly than air. And if the water surrounding them moves (because of waves, for example) it would make them lose heat even quicker.
This heat loss thing is why nature has given marine mammals two ways of conserving heat: giving them thin skin and body fat (seals and walruses, for example) or giving them very thick fur (as in otters and beavers), but mermaids, as similar as they seem to us, have neither one nor the other.
They could always be cold blooded, as fishes are, but transforming from warm blooded to cold blooded is a process that would take millions of years, and since the first homo sapiens appeared 200,000 years ago, that doesn’t seem the case.
So there would only be one way to create mermaids, if you know what I mean…
Well, jokes aside, mermaids are not possible from a scientific point of view, and they are and will always be just a myth.
At least, that’s my opinion about them. Maybe they come from, you know, magic and stuff…
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